Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 139. Saturday, 6 March 1993.
Date: Friday, 05 Mar 1993 17:25:42 -0600 (CST)
Subject: MV: Is Shakespeare anti-Christian?
Instead of concentrating almost exclusively on Shylock and Jews in England and
other Jews in Shakespeare, shouldn't we be devoting more thought to what the
play as a whole says about Shylock? We cannot avoid comparing Shylock to his
opponents in the play. Since it is human nature to take sides, our attitude to
him varies inversely with out attitude to them. Is he morally better, no
worse, or worse than the Christians? If worse, then on what basis? If better,
on what basis? I suggest that he is worse because he gets and keeps money.
The Christians are better because they throw it away. Elizabethan attitudes to
money support this hypothesis.
If the Christians are better in some way, it's Shylock's morality, not his
race that the play holds up for scorn. Herbert Donow has already started us
down this path. But Tad Davis says that the Christians are "an awful crew of
yuppies" and suggests that Shylock has tragic dignity. This difference of
opinion brings up a new question: Is Shakespeare anti-Christian?